In junior high, my favorite snack was Flamin' Hot Cheetos dipped in cream cheese. I know, I know it sounds gross but let me reassure you that a) it was delicious and b) watching the white cheese -- and my fingers -- turn red from the chip's artificial dye was seriously cool in my tweenaged eyes.
And I wasn't alone. All my friends scarfed down those sodium-filled, MSG-laced torpedoes on a daily basis. And while I knew that chips were bad for you, and that the specific Cheetos hue wasn't fashioned by Mother Nature, my little girl body and I could not have cared less.
Good thing that was 15 years ago because these days my carefree, red finger-licking days would be in jeopardy as school districts in California (my home state) and New Mexico are planning to ban the beloved snack citing each individual bag as a certifiable health hazard. And, hey, with each clocking 26 grams of fat and 25 percent of the recommended daily intake for salt -- not to mention the questionable dyes and fillers -- my more mature self reluctantly sees their point.
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Worse, experts say that Cheetos are "hyperpalatable," which means they're extremely addictive. "Our brain is really hardwired to find things like fat and salt really rewarding and now we have foods that have them in such high levels that it can trigger an addictive process," said Ashley Gearhardt, a clinical psychologist at the University of Michigan.
But, as with any proposed ban, this one has its strident detractors. Students who crave the stuff say it's outrageous and have taken their cause, where else?, to social media in protest.
Hot Cheetos currently has its own Facebook fan page with nearly 50,000 likes. But my favorite is a music video created by a group called Y.N. Rich Kids. Dane Jones and his "crew" of adorable 10 year-olds rap about how they love snacking on Hot Cheetos and have already racked up an impressive 3.3 million views. Somewhere my middle school self is dancing right along with them.